Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are connected not only by the Niagara River but also by the Welland Canal, which provides a safe and interesting route around Niagara Falls. The Welland Canal we know today is the fourth version of a waterway link between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, first built in 1829. The present canal was competed in 1932, deepened in the 1950s as part of the Seaway project and further straightened in 1973.
In addition to being the gateway to Lake Erie and the more northern Great Lakes, the Welland Canal offers cruisers another potential route back to the western end of the New York State Canal system in Tonawanda, NY. Note, however, that cruisers will encounter many 15.5-foot vertical clearance bridges traveling east on the New York State Canals from Tonawanda.
More than 4,000 lake and oceangoing ships from around the world make their way each year through the 23-mile-long canal, which provides over the Niagara Escarpment through 8 locks. The average lift of each lock is 46 feet (14.2 meters), while Lock 8 at Lake Erie is a control lock with a shallow lift varying from 0.3 to 1.2 m (1 to 4 feet) to make the final adjustment to the lake level.
Plan your boating trip on the Welland Canal, ON, CAN. Browse marinas, dockage, service yards, and navigation alerts.
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The Waterway Guide Team has gained extensive boating knowledge over the years, and now we are sharing all of the tips, skills and tools we’ve picked up along the way!